I’ve recently gotten back into college following two very unsuccessful tries almost ten years ago. Given, it’s not the college experience that most are familiar with. I opted for a fully online education rather than the brick-and-mortar institutions I’ve tried in the past. Honestly, sitting in a classroom is terribly annoying for me. Not only must I learn the material at pace with others, but I must get up every day, drive to school, find a spot to park (and pay a shitload for it), interact with others (I don’t play well on teams), and yada yada yada.
I’m not bashing the university experience. For many, it’s a wonderful environment. But, I think I can speak for a lot of us when I say: those people are in the minority. Most students are trying to fit school into an already hectic lifestyle filled with kids, spouses, and jobs. A lot of people can only study on short breaks. Their grades don’t reflect their desire to learn; they reflect an unwillingness to fully participate in an educating system that demands too much of the modern student. That, or simply an inability to keep up.
Education systems are now facing some of the worst financial slashes in history (thanks, Betsy DeVos). We’re also seeing an increase in people that want to be educators for the steady paycheck rather than to educate our future generations. This means more lax lesson plans, more autonomous learning environments, younger/less experienced teachers, and less imagination in classrooms. That’s up and down the entire education ladder, by the way.
This is all especially frustrating in a job market that damn-near requires a college degree for increased starting salary, which can’t even be called “fair pay”. We’ve got college graduates clawing for $15 an hour as if that kind of money is outrageous. [At $15/hour for 40 hours/week for 52 straight weeks, that’s $31,200 per year. Minus taxes. Minus approximately $1,000/month in rent ($12,000 a year). Minus food. Minus car payments or a bus pass to get to and from work/school/other.]
We have people moving to cities to find work that pays them less than it costs to live in the city.
But hey, this article isn’t about the non-lubricated ass-fucking that is the current U.S. job market. This article is about education. More specifically, this article is about self-education, and how you can use it to maximize your life fulfillment.
For whatever reason, it is the cultural norm (in my country, anyway) to: finish high school, get a job (if you don’t already have one), go to college, get married, buy a house, have a child. In that order. Of course, as we all know, that timeline gets a little crossed. Considering the numbers, the child usually comes second or third on that list, and the house never comes at all. People are out there with too much responsibility on their shoulders at too young an age, and they pay the price for societal expectations. There’s too much demanded of the privileged and nothing provided for the underprivileged.
Now, I’m not saying don’t play the game. By all means, if those things on that list meet your criteria for a fulfilling life: do them. There is an alternative, though.
You can maximize your job opportunities and beef up your qualifications from just 15/day on the Internet spent learning. You can also give yourself the chance to do stuff you’ve always wanted to do.
We live in the Age of Information. Anything you want to learn, you have at your fingertips. You want to be an electrician? Get certified on the Internet. You want to learn to grow your own food and save a little money? Learn to do it on the Internet. You want to build a self-driving, vegetable oil-fueled rocket car? Buddy, learn it on the Internet.
(And if you can’t afford the Internet… libraries are free.)
We spend so much time online doing nothing, y’all. So much time scrolling through past conversations or through timelines filled with stories of people doing shit. What irony. We could be spending that time learning a new language, or learning to invest our money, or learning the habits of successful people. We could be learning the technical aspects of fields we want to approach, armed with the knowledge to skip on-job-training and certify almost automatically.
Sure, there will always be some real-world practice to be done in any educative endeavor. But, there are templates out there. Most of the time, it takes little more than Googling “how to ____?”
You don’t have to wait for money to take guitar lessons or learn effective public speaking. You don’t need to go to school for automotive mechanics to learn how to change your own oil. The knowledge is out there, waiting. All you have to do is get out there and absorb it. For free! (While that’s still possible… thanks, Ajit Pai.) You have the greatest tool in the world at your disposal. Stop fucking around with it and use it for something productive!
You have the power and the resources. It’s not unrealistic to use your greatest tool for the greatest good. Invest in yourself. Learn things you’ve always wanted to learn. You have the opportunity to do it every time you check what time it is.
Add some shit to your résumé, homies.
What are your experiences with self-education? Have you learned anything on the Internet that has been valuable? Has self-education totally screwed you over? Do you want to learn more? Share your experiences in the comments! Remember: /this blog does not tolerate hate, bigotry, or discrimination of any kind/. Keep it classy.
Ronin is currently using the Internet to accomplish his dreams. He goes to school online and maintains this blog daily. He also reads way more science and news articles than he rightfully should. You can check out his writing on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and WordPress. Subscribe to his YouTube channel for neat videos at the end of the month.
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